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How To Tell if Your Spouse is Lying

Ways to Spot a Liar


Caucasian couple arguing on sofa
Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Wray Herbert wrote in an article, "How to Catch a Liar: The Cognitive Clues to Deceit", "Most of us can spot barely more than half of all lies and truths through listening and observation."

Spotting a liar isn't easy. Your own suspicions can get in the way of getting to the truth.

While some scientists reported two ways to spot a liar, British researchers determined that eye movement is not a good predictor of lies.

How do you know when or if your spouse is lying?

It is widely believed that nearly everyone lies on a regular basis. In an interview with ABC News on 1/0/02, University of Virginia sociologist Bella DePaulo remarked that some lying is necessary in everyday life.

Here are some reasons your spouse might lie, signs that you are being lied to, and what you can do about the lies and lying.

Some Reasons People Lie:

  • To avoid conflict.
  • To supposedly protect someone's feelings.
  • To avoid the consequences of their behavior.
  • To postpone having to make changes in lifestyle.
  • To hide something they did or did not do.
  • Because they are afraid of rejection or losing their spouse.
  • To be in control of a situation.
  • To avoid being embarrassed.
  • To make themselves appear more successful, good, or talented than they really are.

You Could Mislabel Behaviors

It is possible to mistake nervousness or distraction or lack of eye contact for lying with the result of misreading or mislabeling your spouse's behaviors. Nonverbal clues to lying can be difficult to spot and vary from individual to individual.

The Bottom Line: If you think your spouse is lying, ask questions and ask for clarification if necessary. Some experts believe you should ask for eye contact and ask that the story be told in reverse. It is important for you to trust your own intuition or that funny feeling you may feel inside.

Possible Signs of Lying:

Remember -- most of these signs can be easily misread and misinterpreted!
  • Touching chin, or rubbing their brows.
  • Crossed arms or legs.
  • Playing with hair.
  • A line of perspiration on the brow if it isn't a warm day.
  • Saying "no" several times.
  • Continual denying of accusations.
  • Being extremely defensive.
  • Providing more information and specifics than is necessary or was asked for.
  • Inconsistencies in what is being shared.
  • Body language and facial expressions don't match what is being said such as saying "no", but nodding head up and down.
  • Smugness.
  • May place a barrier such as a desk or chair in front of self.
  • Uncommon calmness.
  • Unwillingness to touch spouse during conversation.
  • Being hesitant.
  • Slouching posture.
  • Rigidity or fidgeting.
  • Differing behaviors. Not acting in a usual fashion.
  • Unnatural or limited arm and hand movements.
  • Partial shrug.
  • Lack of finger pointing.
  • Unusual voice fluctuations, word choice, sentence structure.
  • Stalling the conversation by repetitive use of pauses and comments like "um" or "you know".
  • Lack of use of contractions. Prefers emphasizing "not" when talking.
  • Use of word fillers or evasive answers when on the telephone.
  • Lack of many pronouns while talking.
  • Avoidance of eye contact, eyes glancing to the right, staring past you, or turning away from you while they are talking. However, some honesty experts, like Stan Walters, say that measuring eye contact isn't an effective tool in detecting deception.
Anahad O'Connor: "Research suggests that it is not possible to detect lies based on eye movement."
Source: Anahad O'Connor. "Really? You Can Spot a Lie by Watching a Person's Eyes." NYTimes.com. 7/16/2012.

When to Confront

Some experts believe that when you believe you are being lied to, you shouldn't confront your spouse with your suspicions right away. They recommend waiting until you have discovered more information and facts. Other experts believe that the sooner the cards are all out on the table, and the sooner honesty is lived out once again in a marriage, the better. Only you know what is best for your marriage relationship


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